I have great faith in the hearts of Australians—I always have had and I always will have. A slang term that we use is the ‘fair go’. For the last almost 60 years, the people of Palestine have not had a fair go.
Mr LAUNDY (Reid) (11:37): I rise today both to second the motion that the member for Calwell has brought to the chamber and to speak in favour of it. My predecessor spoke about going to Palestine. I have not had the opportunity to go to Palestine, but in a weird twist of events in the electorate I represent I did not have to, because people of Palestine came to me. I have lived in my part of Sydney my entire life, and in fact I am the third generation of my family to do that. Being Catholic you are cursed, I think, with leaning right on values and leaning very left on social justice. If you were to talk about this topic in my electorate, this is one that resonates. It is the social justice side of this that particularly resonates with me. I learn better by immersion and, after I was elected, the member for Calwell contacted me, I guess on a hunch that the demographics of my electorate would have over time given me exposure to this cause—and I am very thankful she did that. What I did do once I agreed to be the co-chair of the Friends of Palestine was that, because I am a simple character that learns better by immersion, I contacted friends of the member for Calwell and I asked to basically go and sit and listen, as I learn a lot better when I listen. I went one step further. It was a Saturday afternoon in Auburn and around 50 or 60 people had gathered together. I took my wife and my two daughters with me to spend an afternoon with some truly amazing people and to listen to their stories.
We hear the constant referral to the two-state solution; both parties refer to it. But I am as frustrated as the previous speakers are on this topic, because quite often I believe this is used as a line to hide behind; it does not get past that. The sole motivation of everyone in this place is to make this country and this world a better place for our kids—and to do so, this is an issue we need to attack; we need to be real about it. I have great faith in the hearts of Australians—I always have had and I always will have. A slang term that we use is the ‘fair go’. For the last almost 60 years, the people of Palestine have not had a fair go. What my wife and daughters and I heard that afternoon over three hours was story after story from first generation and second generation Palestinians. We heard about the impact that the situation in Palestine has had on the parents. Imagine, if you will, going home this afternoon and going to put your key in the door and it doesn’t fit. You think, ‘Hang on a minute. What’s happened here?’ You knock on the door, and someone that you do not know opens the door. They are in your home. That is what happened in Palestine. That is what happened all those years ago. A people were displaced and they have been fighting for their identity ever since. That is it simply. If you look at the Middle East and the issues that we as a globe confront today, we can trace it pretty much back to this region some 60 or 70 years ago. Anyone who stands in this place and argues differently is not being fair dinkum.
We got back in the car after three hours. I am blessed with three beautiful children, and all of them, fortunately, look like and take after their mum. In the safety of our own car, where we could voice our opinions and talk amongst ourselves about this issue, my middle daughter, my 15-year-old daughter, Sophie, said from the back seat, ‘Dad, you’ve got to do something to help.’ You cannot listen to the stories of people who were directly impacted on this front and not come away with any other desire than to help—and to do that we must be fair dinkum. We must take our soft diplomatic voice through both the UN and the halls of these chambers. The things discussed in this chamber should not be influenced by the power of the lobby; they should be influenced by what is right.
Member for Calwell, in the Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People—many of whom call my electorate home—what you propose here is right. I will stand side by side with you at all times on this issue. I will debate this topic and yell for change—because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing every day and hoping for a different solution.